Welcome to The Cathay
Once a structure synonymous with classic entertainment, The Cathay building today is an architecture of vibrant culture, embracing both linear Art-Deco design and modernism with its rich history.
The Cathay Building has been a distinct landmark since 1939 when it first opened its doors to avid movie-goers. Now a shopping mall infused with fashion and trends, five storeys house retail and dining indulgences while two floors are dedicated to an eight-hall multiplex cinema, including The Picturehouse – Singapore's first arthouse theatre.
The Cathay: A History
Did you know that The Cathay have been entertaining generations of Singaporeans for over 70 years? And we have the late Dato Loke Wan Tho to thank for.
On 18 July 1935, the Associated Theatres Ltd was established. Dato Loke Wan Tho the visionary propelled the business, which was later renamed Cathay Organisation, into one of the most prominent film enterprises in South East Asia.
In 1936, the Dhoby Ghaut site was purchased by Mrs Loke Yew (Dato Loke Wan Tho's mother) and construction of the Cathay Building commenced in 1937.
When it reopened in 1939, the Cathay Building held the distinction of being Singapore's first skyscraper. It housed Singapore's first air-conditioned cinema, lavish apartments, a sophisticated restaurant and a hotel. The Cathay Cinema became an icon.
In 2000, the Cathay Building closed its doors for re-development.
While the historical façade remains intact, The Cathay once again greeted patrons in 2006 with a makeover to its interior – now adorned with first-class retail experience, and top-of-the-line cinematic enjoyment.
The Cathay Building Milestones
|1937||Commencement of construction of the Cathay Building.|
|1939||Opening of Cathay Cinema, 3rd October, with Sir Alexander Korda's The Four Feathers.|
|1940||Opening of Cathay Restaurant, situated on the fourth floor, and leased to Bill Bailey of Coconut Grove fame.|
|1941||Completion of residential tower block, making it Singapore's first skyscraper at 16 storeys.|
|1942||Japanese Broadcasting Department moves in followed by Japanese Military Propaganda Department and Japanese Military Information Bureau.|
|1945||Became the headquarters of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia after WWII. Plaque presented to Mrs. Loke Yew in commemoration of Lord Louis Mountbatten's occupation of the building.|
|1946||Headquarters of H E The Governor General Mr. Malcolm Macdonald and HE Special Commissioner Lord Killearn. Also housed in the building are Radio Malaya, Far Eastern Disposal Board and Navy Intelligence Branch.|
|1948||Cathay Restaurant reopened with Mr. Harry Gachnang formerly of the E&O Hotel Penang as manager, American Club became a tenant in the building.|
|1949||Cathay Building is finally de-requisitioned by the Government.|
|1954||Cathay Hotel opens initially with 60 rooms and this is eventually increased to 170 rooms.|
|1965||Cathay Restaurant closes and premises converted to Cathay Organisation Offices.|
|1970||Cathay Hotel closes.|
|1971||Tower block converted to offices.|
|1990||Opening of The Picturehouse, Singapore's first arthouse cinema, at the Cathay Building.|
|1991||Cathay cinema converted into triplex.|
|2000||Closure of the Cathay Cinema and Cathay Building.|
|2004||Construction of the new Cathay building begins.|
|2006||24 March, The Cathay re-opens to a new beginning.|